We’re spiced nuts fanatics around here. Every season we make pounds and pounds and pounds of them, that we eat ourselves and give as gifts. These are the nuts my kids beg for when the weather turns cooler, that we’re told we must bring to holiday gatherings, and that we can barely keep around the house because they are so addictively good.
Bonus: making these makes your house smell amazing.
We’ve spent many years honing the perfect recipe, which is dead simple and inherently flexible. (In fact, since 2014 when I first published this recipe on Modern Mrs Darcy, we’ve continued to hone it—increasing the spices by about one-third, and decreasing the sugar by about one-half.)
I borrowed the basic technique from the people at Cooks Illustrated, from a long time ago: beat an egg white with a little water, stir in a pound of nuts, add spices, and bake. It’s quick and easy and the results are terrific. There are other methods, involving corn syrup and stovetop cooking and other fussiness, and while the end result is tasty, the Cooks’ method is so simple my kids can follow it, and do.
I’ve significantly modified the recipe over the years. I slashed the sugar in half from where we started, because while sugared nuts are delicious, all that sugar makes me woozy (or at least it should), especially around the holidays. These are sweet, but not too sweet.
We’ve also done a lot of tinkering with the spice mix over the years. I like the traditional cinnamon, and the cayenne makes them gently spicy. (If you like heat, double the cayenne. My kids would kill me if I did that.) I adore cloves, so you’ll find them here. 1/2 teaspoon is just the right amount for me; feel free to omit if you don’t keep cloves on hand.
Any nuts will do: I used an equal mix of almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Hazelnuts and cashews are also good in this recipe, and macadamias are straight-up indulgent.
A word of warning: keep these in a tightly sealed container, and preferably on a high shelf. They’re seriously addictive.
Not-too-sweet spiced nuts
1 pound raw mixed nuts (I used equal portions of almonds, pecans, and walnuts)
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Diamond brand; reduce to 1 teaspoon if using Morton)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Combine salt, spices, and sugar in small bowl. Whisk egg white and water together in mixing bowl. Add nuts; stir to coat. Sprinkle spice mixture over nuts and stir to coat evenly.
Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven. When cool, break the nuts apart and store in a tightly sealed container.
And try not to eat them all at once.